Sammy Leslie Guest Critic
Sammy is trustee to one of Ireland's most luxurious hotels – Castle Leslie. The castle is a thriving estate which incorporates a hotel, spa, equestrian centre and organic cookery school and achieved global fame when it was chosen as the venue for the Paul McCartney/ Heather Mills wedding in 2002. The Estate which is in Glaslough, County Monaghan, has been inhabited by the Leslie family since 1665 and Sammy is the fifth of Desmond Leslie's six children.
Sammy herself grew up in the castle and while in her twenties took it upon herself to turn around the fortunes of the run down estate. She started off by setting up a tearoom in a leaky conservatory, baking and serving the food herself through the summer of 1991.
The profit she made generated enough income to repair the roof of the castle. Sammy dedicated herself to learning every aspect of the hotel business from the bottom up and has seen the hotel prosper to the point where it employs 164 people in total.
Sammy founded a sister company ‘Castle Leslie Real Estate’ in 2002 which runs all hospitality activities on the Estate. Sammy is devoted to her business and believes she is a guardian of the land and hopes to protect it for future generations by putting the Estate into a trust.
Sammy is also active in a number of cross-border projects such as ‘Blackwater Regional Partnership’ and’ Caledon Regeneration Project’. But she was particularly delighted to be invited to sit on the steering group for the Irish Heritage Trust chaired by Sir David Davies of Abbyleix and Minister Dick Roche.
In the summer of 2008, Sammy took part in the hugely poplular charity reality show ‘Failte Towers’, in which she was one of three judges.